The best of the week: Google is watching, Kim K is naked and Digiday is growing

It was a holiday week. It was a rough week. Here, if you missed it, is a rundown of some of the better stories we published from our corner of the internet. Treat this weekly roundup as a vacation for your mind. This week we learn how Google is upping its ad targeting game; how GQ nabbed its two biggest days of traffic ever; how College Humor’s head of video got his big break — and how Digiday itself made news with a new fintech vertical.


Google knows what you did last summer. And it knows what you’re going to do this summer. The search giant took one step toward the perfectly personalized ad this week when it rolled out its “My Activity” pages. Every search you’ve conducted and every YouTube video you’ve watched has been stockpiled and is now being served up for you to review — and for advertisers to better target you. Big Brother correspondent Garett Sloane provided a nice summary of what brands and normal people alike should know about Google’s activity audits.

Turns out even ad tech workers are surprised by just how much Google knows about its users. “It was a holy shit moment, looking at the timeline of activity and getting into geo-locations and looking at voice audio — it’s staggering,” said Garrett MacDonald, evp of sales at Kochava, an ad and data technology firm.

Google wants to unify all this activity by identifying users wherever they are, so device IDs and log-in information for apps have become the most accurate data markers. It is, essentially, taking a page out of Facebook’s playbook.


GQ enjoyed the two biggest days of online traffic in the publication’s history last month. It also had its best month for print subscription sales on the site this year. The reason? TL;DR: Photos of a naked Kim Kardashian. It didn’t hurt, either, that the cover story profiling Kardashian was brilliantly written by former Gawker writer Caity Weaver. (You did read it for the article, right? If not, go back and check out the lead.)

Digiday’s resident Kiwi, Jemma Brackenbush, chatted with GQ editor Jim Nelson about why he thought the story was such a huge success for the magazine. (TL;DR: Photos of a naked Kim Kardashian.)


In a delightful profile of College Humor’s head of video, Sam Reich, we learn he dropped out of high school and was fired as a waiter at the age of 16 — for being too hungover to function. We also learn that his dad, former Secretary of Labor for President Bill Clinton, Robert Reich, has anonymously contributed a few jokes to College Humor. (Including an off-color one about Donald Trump.)

We asked him for the best piece of advice he ever received:

It was from my high school drama teacher. He told me, “It’s not how much you want something, it’s how long you want it for.” This business is borderline impossible to any teenager who wants to get into entertainment. If you want this career, you have to be willing to put in a decade or more to be able to make it work, and if you’re not willing to do that, then you’re probably not in the right industry.


We talk a lot about advertising in all its various forms: internet, native, TV, video, mobile, print, branded content, matchbooks, stunts, product placement, sandwich boards. The question we seldom ask ourselves is: Does any of it even really work any more?

In our most divisive piece of the week, our resident curmudgeon, Mark “Copyranter” Duffy argues that advertising, by and large, is just a waste of money. “Your only options left are to non-sell or un-sell,” he writes.


What plays in the U.K. doesn’t necessarily resonate in Germany. Our London bureau chief Jess Davies had this smart look at how BuzzFeed tailors its content depending on the country it’s targeted for. BuzzFeed gained huge traction in the U.K., for example, by tapping into Britain’s self-deprecating sense of humor, which doesn’t necessarily translate well to the mainland.

“In our early days, a lot of our most popular posts were in key with British identity,” said Luke Lewis, BuzzFeed’s head of European growth. “That doesn’t work so much in Germany where people are less inclined to share posts about German identity.”


Speaking of growth, we here at Digiday Media continue to expand. In May, we took the big next step with the launch of Glossy, providing daily reported analysis into how technology is changing the fashion and luxury business. Now, Digiday Media is turning its attention to finance, with this week’s re-launch of Tradestreaming, a new Digiday Media vertical devoted to the big story of how technology is changing the world of finance. Check it out and tell us what you think.

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